I’ve heard about this book my entire prison sentence. I don’t know why I have avoided it, well, I guess I have an idea. I never really thought it applied to me. As I’m going through two different treatments right now I see it not only can apply to me, it does so directly. Funny it should land in my hands one more time but this time at the request of someone I believe in wholeheartedly.

The book troubles me. As I read it my chest constricts, my stomach knots and my jaw clenches. These things that I hold onto to keep me “safe” and to make me feel secure are the very symptoms of trauma, or better known as PTSD. That actually makes me feel ashamed, not better. I keep reading the book not in excitement that healing and help can come from it but more out of morbid curiosity. What else is wrong with me?

Alas, I’m not one to back away from the challenge of self-discovery. Thus far my rehabilitation has not been neatly wrapped and bow tied. It’s been messy and inconvenient. It kind of feels like I aged 35 years in just a few years, like my maturity finally caught up to my body. I don’t know what to expect from here on out reading this. I’m reading 4 books simultaneously and all of them are super intense and wonderful reads (Captive Gender: Trans Embodiment and the Prison Industrial Complex by Eric A. Stanley and Nat Smith Decarcerating Disability: Deinstitutionalization and Prison Abolition by Liat Ben-Moshe My Grandmother’s Hands by Resmaa Menakem and The Body Keeps The Score: Brain, Mind, And Body In The Healing Of Trauma by Bessel Van Der Kolk, M.D.) that speak to some level of trauma healing. I don’t really believe in coincidences.

My problem is I view my trauma as a neat freak views a mess, something to be rid of. Like an infestation to call an exterminator for. A flaw that people judge me for, even if they don’t, which causes me to shut people out. I couldn’t bear the idea that someone knows I’m “broken” because in my mind, and part of my childhood trauma, that “brokenness” equals bad person that no one likes.

Obviously I’m talking about it now so it’s no secret, but it’s something I’m actively working on.

So far this book makes me self-conscious because so many of the symptoms of trauma are reflected in my day-to-day life that it is alarming to me. It is making me think “Jesus, am I that bad?”. But with all challenging topics for me come new opportunities to conquer yet another element of me and build myself more resilient and tenacious. Though it is an internally challenging read, I’m glad I started it so far (even if sometimes I want to chuck it across the cell).

Any thoughts?

With Love
Ruth Utnage
(For interviews or media inquiries please contact me directly!)

Ruth Utnage fka jeff 823469 C-510-2
PO Box 888
Monroe, WA. 98272

or via Jpay email service (you have to use my birth name, but, please do not call me by it, my new legal name is Ruth)

Jeff Utnage